Christianity, as many other religions,
relies on the Word, a written text-in this case, the Bible. Reading the
Bible, therefore, is the focus of the first part of the Mass. During the
Middle Ages, the passages excerpted varied in number and selection; the
list of readings sometimes even provides hints as to the origin of a given
missal. In the Ambrosian rite, for example,
as still celebrated in the diocese of Milan, there are three readings
at Mass (including one that could be from a saint's life); much more common
were two readings, one from the Epistles, read by the subdeacon, and one
from the Gospels, read by the deacon. Gospel lectionaries are easily recognized
by the words that introduce each passage, "In illo tempore . . .",
"At that time . . .." Since books were expensive, a cleric might
simply annotate the margins of his copy of the Bible with the days for
certain readings, rather than buy a separate lectionary for the mass.
|Morgan MS M.91: An
epistolary (with other texts) from the Abbey of St. Gall in Switzerland,
copied during the last quarter of the 9th century.
a title page, announcing the contents of the codex as readings ("lectiones")
for the temporale ("dominicales") and for the sanctorale
("aliis festis diebus") beginning with the vigil of Christmas.
of the epistle of Paul to the Romans.
|Morgan MS M.728:
A Gospel lectionary from the Abbey of Saint
Remi in France, ca. 860.
author-portrait of Luke, holding a book in codex format but with
rolls stored in the round chest at his feet.
opening of the Gospel of Luke.
|Morgan MS M.1: The
so-called Lindau Gospels, copied at the Abbey of St. Gall in Switzerland,
late 9th century.
cover: Dating from ca. 880, the front cover was probably produced
at the Court School of the Emperor Charles the Bald; both covers
on this book attest to the reverence and ceremonial accorded to
cover: This cover was re-used here from an earlier book, in that
it comes from the diocese of Salzburg, from the second half of the
processional from the turn of the 15th century, possibly from southern
France with the Gospel reading beginning in the usual fashion, "In
Gospel lectionary from Spain, ca. 1577.
bible from late 14th or early 15th century England with lists of
15th century English copy of Clement of Lanthony, Harmony of the
Gospels with lists of the readings.